One of the best and most intriguing things about 5 Seconds of Summer is that they don’t indulge in bulls—t. Take their interviews, for instance, where the four guys are occasionally shocking, usually hilarious, and always admirably genuine. And then there’s their music to consider — a raucous blend of pop and punk that gives you the impression they’re just four young guys doing what they love and being unabashedly themselves.
But underneath the playful, no-f—ks-given exterior, the Aussies have also scratched at another core part of what it means to be in a band like 5SOS: to quote Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” As a group with a predominantly teen and young adult fan base, they’re in the unique position to — as they vigorously claim on their new song “Permanent Vacation” — be “the voice of the new generation.”
Guitarist Michael Clifford took that responsibility to a poignant new height last night (Aug. 19) at 5SOS’ Rock Out With Your Socks Out tour stop in Auburn Hills, Mich. During a brief pause in the show, the 19-year-old told the crowd, “I was fixing some problems with my mental health… I just saw a therapist real quick on the break we had. Anyways, I’m going to shut up now. We’re gonna play another song it it’s OK?”
The moment was fleeting but important. Michael didn’t go into detail about his struggle, and he didn’t need to; that’s private information. What matters is that he was willing to address it all, especially for an audience that likely needed to hear it. Struggling with mental health is an isolating experience, but to know that someone like Michael, someone they love, is currently dealing with the same thing? That’s invaluable.
Quick as it was, Michael’s comments soon inspired an influx of supportive tweets from 5SOS fans who applauded his transparency using the hashtag #WeLoveYouMichael, which soon trended worldwide.
Michael’s revelation echoes that of his bandmate Ashton Irwin, who told the Sydney Morning Herald in June that he’s struggled with anxiety and depression in the past. The drummer also hinted that the band’s next album, Sounds Good Feels Good, will tackle some of those issues.
“With our next album we want to sort of have more messages for life involved in what we do because we have a voice for young people,” he said.
He’s right, and — along with “Permanent Vacation” — 5SOS have given us another glimpse of their voice-of-the-generation prowess with “She’s Kinda Hot.” The spirited and ultimately self-empowering anthem includes a mantra of sorts that’s practically healing when you shout it at the top of your lungs: “I’m alright though. Yeah, we’ll be alright though.”